Birkbeck, University of London > MPhil/PhD degrees > Applying for a research degree

Applying for an MPhil/PhD degree

If you are applying to do a PhD, you should note that you will be considered for MPhil registration in the first instance, unless you are exceptionally well qualified (for example, if you have achieved a distinction at MS/MSc level or hold a relevant MPhil or MRes).

For most of our research programmes, you can choose to start in September/October, in January or in March.

Before you apply: find a supervisor

  • Before you apply for an MPhil/PhD degree, you will need to establish that one of our academics is able to provide appropriate supervision for your research.
  • Once you find a potential supervisor, you should contact the department they are based in to check to see whether they are able to provide appropriate supervision for your research.

Submitting your application

When can I apply?

  • Applications for PhD/MPhil research degrees are considered throughout the year. However, if you intend to apply for any form of research studentship, you will need to apply by early March.

What is the selection process? Will I need to attend an interview?

  • The research admissions tutor in your chosen subject area will circulate your proposal to potential supervisors and, if your proposed topic falls within the department’s area of interest, you may be invited for interview.
  • If you are an overseas student applying for a full-time research degree and you are not available for interview in London, the admissions tutor may ask you to submit samples of written work and/or ask you to undergo a telephone interview. Please apply as early as possible to allow time for additional correspondence.

What happens to your application?

  • Once you have submitted your application and it is received by Registry Services, your application is normally processed as follows:
    • Registry Services will check that the application is complete and then forward it on to the relevant department for their consideration.
    • The department – or Registry Services – may contact you for further information or additional documentation if required.
    • Once the department has received all the information required, you may be invited to attend an interview.
    • You should be notified of our decision about 1–2 weeks after your interview.
  • Offers are made by admissions tutors, subject to Registry Services’ final check of your eligibility and, in the case of students with unusual qualifications, subject to the approval of the College’s admissions panel.

How long does the application process normally take?

  • The application process – from submitting your application, to attending an interview and receiving the formal email offer letter from Registry Services – normally takes about 4 weeks.
  • However, this can vary depending on the programme being applied for, and/or if there are delays in the College receiving supporting documents such as transcripts and references.